Quantcast

Derailed Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Crude Into Flooded Iowa River

Energy

A train derailment spilled 230,000 gallons of crude oil into an already-flooded Iowa river Friday, endangering downstream drinking water, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

Thirty-two cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed, 14 of which leaked crude oil into the Rock River in Doon, Iowa. The cause of the derailment is unknown, but officials including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday which led to flooding.


To aid recovery from extreme weather and its consequences, including the derailment, Reynolds issued a proclamation of disaster emergency Saturday for Lyon County, where the train derailed, as well as Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.

Workers so far have contained nearly half the spill—around 100,000 gallons—using booms, BNSF told Reuters.

The oil spill hit the town of Rock Valley, Iowa, which was coping with its second flood in four years, especially hard.

"Our city administrator said to me, 'The only thing we need now is a plane crash,'" Rock Valley mayor Van Otterloo told the Des Moines Register. "Everything came at once."

Rock Valley acted quickly to shut off water wells following the spill and plans to drain the wells and use rural water until the well water tests safe.

There are also concerns that oil could contaminate drinking water in Omaha, Nebraska, 150 miles downstream, since the Rock River merges with the Big Sioux River, which then feeds into the Missouri. Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District said they were monitoring water pulled from the Missouri, the Des Moines Register reported. The Metropolitan Utilities District said they could source water from unconnected rivers if needed, according to Reuters.

Reynolds told the Des Moines Register it was still unknown how many communities were affected by the oil spill and how it would impact the surrounding environment.

While none of the initial responses mentioned it, last week's flooding and the resulting derailment could be related to climate change. A pre-Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment of climate change impacts in the Midwest found that precipitation and storms were projected to increase this century, and precipitation in some areas had already increased by 20 percent.

Cristi Moore, who lives in a trailer park near Rock Valley on land that was flooded both in 2014 and 2018, didn't mention climate change but had noticed a difference in the severity of recent floods. She told the Des Moines Register that before 2014, her levees would have been high enough to combat the highest flood levels.

"This is really weird. That's why I'm saying, 'I'm not smart. I don't know. This is an engineer thing,'" Moore told the Des Moines Register. "What's going on that now we're getting flooded again?"

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new report spotlights a U.N. estimate that at least 275 million people rely on healthy coral reefs. A sea turtle near the Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef is seen above. THE OCEAN AGENCY / XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY

By Jessica Corbett

In a new report about how the world's coral reefs face "the combined threats of climate change, pollution, and overfishing" — endangering the future of marine biodiversity — a London-based nonprofit calls for greater global efforts to end the climate crisis and ensure the survival of these vital underwater ecosystems.

Read More
Half of the extracted resources used were sand, clay, gravel and cement, seen above, for building, along with the other minerals that produce fertilizer. Cavan Images / Cavan / Getty Images

The world is using up more and more resources and global recycling is falling. That's the grim takeaway from a new report by the Circle Economy think tank, which found that the world used up more than 110 billion tons, or 100.6 billion metric tons, of natural resources, as Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

Read More
Sponsored

By Gero Rueter

Heating with coal, oil and natural gas accounts for around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. But that's something we can change, says Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passive House Institute in the western German city of Darmstadt.

Read More
Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016. Markus Spiske / Unsplash

By George Citroner

  • Recent research finds that official government figures may be underestimating drug deaths by half.
  • Researchers estimate that 142,000 people died due to drug use in 2016.
  • Drug use decreases life expectancy after age 15 by 1.4 years for men and by just under 1 year for women, on average.

Government records may be severely underreporting how many Americans die from drug use, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University.

Read More
Water coolers in front of shut-off water fountains at Center School in Stow, MA on Sept. 4, 2019 after elevated levels of PFAS were found in the water. David L. Ryan / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a new nationwide assessment of drinking water systems, the Environmental Working Group found that toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are far more prevalent than previously thought.

Read More